Mon, 23rd October 2017 | Updated Thursday 27 July 2017, 09:18:58    

Stakeholders validate Mercury Initial Assessment report

Seychelles Nation 21-September- 2016: Stakeholders met yesterday in a half-day workshop to validate the Mercury Assessment Report of the Minamata Convention on Mercury which is aimed at controlling mercury emissions and releases.

The workshop was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the environment department of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and Energy.

The report was presented by Dinesh Aggarwal, Project International Technical Expert and run by Dave Evers.

Other stakeholders present were officials from the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), the Ministry of Health and the environment department.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after a town in Japan where there was a very significant mercury contamination event which had a very harmful impact on human health, is the first global agreement specifically designed to address contamination from a heavy metal. The convention seeks to address issues related to the use and release of mercury in trade and in industrial processes. The treaty also addresses major sources of atmospheric emissions and releases of mercury into the environment, as well as long-term storage and disposal of mercury compounds.

Under the Minamata Convention, individual countries are charged with protecting human health and the environment from the risks of mercury exposure by systematically controlling mercury emissions and releases, including phasing out the use of mercury in certain products and processes.

In order to meet its obligation under the treaty, Seychelles conducted a Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) to quantitatively and comparatively determine the extent of local mercury pollution.

The issue of mercury in fish and seafood cannot be fully addressed by Seychelles alone as it is a consequence of global mercury releases. But we should be aware of the potential impacts on our health of eating fish that might contain high level of mercury, as much as we are aware of the nutritive and beneficial qualities of eating fish that do not have high levels of mercury. The impacts of mercury pollution are challenging to identify and to reverse. Findings from the Seychelles MIA indicate the input of mercury into the Seychelles’ ecosystem is relatively minor and that with the effort of stakeholders, these impacts can be further reduced.

The impact of regional mercury loads in the Indian Ocean and the effect on commercial fisheries, specifically swordfish and tuna, require broader regional actions. But MIAs are being undertaken my many countries in the region to reduce mercury in there.

It is to be noted that Seychelles signed the Minamata Convention on May 27, 2014, becoming the 98th signatory to the convention. To date more than 50 countries have ratified the convention, which means it is now in force globally.

Explaining the damaging effect mercury has on both the environment and human health and where it is used in the manufacturing of various products that are traded internationally, Marie-May Jérémie, director general for biodiversity conservation and management in the department of environment, said mercury enters the environment through pollution by various industrial and small-scale mining processes. Ms Jérémie was standing in for Alain Decommarmond, principal secretary in the same department.

“Mercury is in the oceans in the form of methyl mercury, which accumulates in predatory fish and other sea foods – and this has been a particular concern for Seychelles, which obviously is not itself a mercury producer.

“National actions alone are not sufficient to protect humans and the environment from the harmful impacts of mercury,” said Ms Jérémie.

It was in recognisant of that insufficiency, she said, that the global community agreed in 2009 to start inter-governmental treaty negotiations with the objective of agreeing to a global and legally binding treaty to limit emissions of mercury. This came through the Minamata Convention.

Source: Seychelles Nation @http://nation.sc/article.html?id=251107

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